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Christmas Accessories Hidden on Board

Szöveg: Anikó Farkas and 1st Lt. Balázs Iványi |  2012. december 4. 16:16

Plus three and a half hours – this is the time difference between Hungary and Afghanistan, where we arrived in five and a half hours, thanks to the C–17 airlifter of Pápa, which carried three journalist colleagues, a troop rotation (with some tasks), an explosive detection dog as well as scores of luggage and pieces of equipment. Our mission is to tour the accessible sites where Hungarian troops are deployed in Afghanistan and report on their activities and current affairs. Reporting from the spot.

From night into night

Due to the early departure of the plane, it would not make any sense to sleep before the travel from Budapest to Pápa, so we were rather sleepy on boarding the giant C–17 airlifter – which is operated by 12 nations –, whose constructors apparently did not take into account the needs of those wishing to doze off comfortably while designing the seats, the noise filtering and the lights that are extended to all components.

In addition to the next rotations of the HDF National Support Element and the HDF Logistic Mentor Team, the aircraft carried aboard the soldiers to assume staff positions in ISAF and the contingent of the HUN PRT-13. Hidden in the cargo hold were also the main accessories for the Christmas celebrations in the missions – that is, Christmas fondants and Advent wreaths.


Even in comparison with some human fellow travelers, the above-mentioned explosive detection dog, Dragon endured the journey well in its kennel. It is starting its third mission, as it will serve with PRT-13 EOD cell, its handler told us immediately after the landing, when we were able to talk again on a normal voice level.

Capt. Dr. Tamás Hoffer was waiting for us at the airport of Mazar-e Sharif, giving us help in getting our individual gears and the supper too.

Camp Marmal at night…

After a short needs analysis, it turned out that our journalists were not so interested in the general newcomers’ briefing held for the rotation personnel. They said if it were up to them, they would rather see the night life of the camp. They had a choice, so under the guidance of our captain, we went to the German pub “Oben" where apart from the desert uniforms, there was a true European atmosphere: table soccer, loud Germans and a screen on which ladies in nice but light clothes or football matches were broadcast.


There are limits to the entertainment here in Afghanistan: two small glasses or a large mug of beer per person is the permitted ration, except for the Americans, who are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages at all. Legend has it that the Scandinavians are running a club with sauna but entrance to it is by invitation only.

The camp housing some 10,000 personnel is surprisingly well equipped with catering establishments – it is rumored that around 100 pubs are being operated in Camp Marmal.


Photos by the author